Blue-eyed Grass

Sisyrinchium angustifolium. Blue-eyed Grass is a pleasant name for a pretty flower that, because of its small size, is often overlooked in the spring landscape. Many species of the genus Sisyrinchium live in North America. Among them, Sisyrinchium angustifolium, called Slender, Narrow-leaf or Stout Blue-eyed Grass, shown here, may be the most common and widespread, found in every state east of the Mississippi River and some to the west. Although commonly found in meadows and fields, S. angusifolium also does well in damp woods, where its six blue-violet petals tend to be deeper in color than the hue found in sunnier sites. (Some members of the Blue-eyed Grass genus aren’t blue at all, but yellow or white, leading to names like Golden-eyed Grass or the strange moniker, White Blue-eyed Grass, a flower that has no blue at all!) Plants are sometimes found in small clusters, but often in colonies bearing hundreds of blossoms, making up in numbers what they lack in size. The long, slender leaves look like grass, but are actually tiny versions of the leaves typically found on fellow members of the Iris family. Among the American Indians, this plant treated stomach and digestive problems, including diarrhea and worms. According to 17th Century herbalist John Gerard, Europeans used masses of the tiny bulbs of a close cousin, S. majus, now often called Moraea sisyrinchium, for a less practical purpose: An aphrodisiac “to procure lust and lecherie.”

Click here to return to the previous page